Peaches, nectarines, apricots, also blueberries and raspberries.
Summer's here and she brought all her luscious fruits with her. Eat them until the juice runs down your chin, then take what you can't eat and turn it into sauce for pancakes, or blintzes, or to stir into your very own homemade yogurt.
First off, check the ads. Sunflower Market has peaches, nectarines and apricots for .67/lb at most stores and .59/lb at the North Phoenix store at 3rd St. and Bell. Raspberries are .99 at most stores, .88 at 3rd and Bell. Sprouts has blueberries for $1.49/pint. Blueberries are full of antioxidants. Antioxidants fight wrinkles. Gorging on summer fruit will keep you young.
Second off, stop thinking there's anything mysterious to putting up fruit. There isn't. You slice it up, put it in a saucepan over low to medium heat, add a tiny, little bit of water, a little brown sugar, some cinnamon or allspice or cloves, or maybe all three, whatever suits your fancy and you cook the stuff down until it mushes out into what looks like a topping. Adding a little lemon juice prior to cooking down helps the fruit to keep it's color.
That's it. You're done.
Now put the fruit in ziploc bags or FoodSaver it, pop it in the freezer, pull out and thaw when needed for ice cream toppings and pancake topping or for making Dump Cake (see previous posts) or putting into yogurt or cottage cheese or oatmeal or whatever else you desire. Use it to fill a pie shell, top with whipped cream, call it cobbler and serve to guests. We're talking good stuff here. Really, really good stuff.
And don't forget your recently acquired freezer jam skills.
Aside from all the lovely fruit, I'd scoop up milk at Fry's for $1.39/gallon. You have to buy them 2 at a time. If you have the freezer space, go ahead and freeze some, but I've a challenge for you this week. Ready? Here it comes...
It's easy. In fact, in this climate, it's almost impossible to avoid. Here's a really basic recipe, all you'll probably need to buy is a thermometer - about 8 bucks:
Heat yogurt in a large saucepan to just below boiling. If you have a thermometer, heat it to 185 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, heat it to just below the point just below when you start seeing a lot of bubbles. Stir it to keep the milk from burning.
Remove milk from heat and let it cool some, then ad some 'yogurt starter'. A yogurt starter is a few tablespoons of whatever live culture yogurt you have lying around. You're supposed to keep it at a constant temperature of 110 to 115 degrees. That's easier than you think. You can make a hot water bath in a larger pot and put your saucepan of milk into it to stay warm. Set the sauce pan over the pilot light on your stovetop. Slide it into the warming drawer of your oven. Wrap it up in a blanket and put it out in your unairconditioned garage, or set it in the sun on your back porch. I say that because it's summer and in Phoenix, 110 degrees is about right.
Now walk away from it for 8 to 12 hours. Don't stir it, don't peek at it. When the time has passed, check it. It should have firmed up. You now have yogurt. Put it in the fridge and use in place of sour cream.
There's a really cool non-electric yogurt maker called Easiyo, available at Amazon. As it's name implies - it's easy. It doesn't draw any power and at about 25 bucks, it's earth and budget-friendly. If you use the Easiyo, you don't need the thermometer.
With milk prices as low as they've been in recent months, you can't buy yogurt cheaper than you can make it at home. Also, it won't have any added ingredients with long names they haven't anything to do with milk. You can ferment it with vanilla extract and get vanilla yogurt, add splenda or sugar or honey or stevia as you like. Put it in a blender with some of those sauces you just made and a little bit of milk and make drinkable yogurt. Put it in an ice cream maker and make frozen yogurt.
Ah, bliss on a hot summer day!